Nothing worse than a facilitator?

9 June 2011 9 By Viv McWaters

This stopped me in my tracks. I’d followed a link on Twitter to an interesting article on “How to give an academic talk V4.0′ when this jumped out at me: “In recent years, PowerPoint’s bullet list structure has been so overused that it can be more of a turn off than a facilitator.”

There’s some very sound advice in this paper by Paul N Edwards from the University of Michigan (and some I don’t agree with either, but that’s okay because I’m pretty sure not everyone agrees with all that I write either!).

And I’m not even that concerned about the bald statement about facilitators. What I am is curious. I want to know more. I want to know why facilitators can be a greater turn-off than a bullet-point list on powerpoint. I want to learn so I’m not one of those facilitators. After all, it’s how I make my living, so I should be interested.

There’s no easy way of engaging (the paper is a pdf), but I eventually found an email address.Β Here’s some of what I wrote.

I couldn’t find any further comments/evidence/examples/discussion (probably because it’s not a paper about facilitation, but one on presenting, so that’s fair enough). But I remain curious, probably because I make my living as a facilitator and would like to know more. Maybe it was tongue-in-cheek, maybe not. If not,

What experiences have you had of facilitation?

What has specifically turned you off? What other reactions have you had to facilitation?

What, in your opinion, do facilitators do wrong? Do right?

Are you just referring to academic presentations and the (often superfluous) role of a facilitator, or are you referring to all facilitation, including workshops?

I hope Paul responds. In the meantime, maybe you’d like to answer these questions too.